Pick – Analysis
Can Kentucky be stopped? The line in this Game says no as the Wildcats are once again double-digit favorites at -13.5 at 5Dimes against the Mountaineers.
Kentucky got somewhat of a test in its last Game against Cincinnati, but the Bearcats couldn’t muster enough offense in the end to make it closer. West Virginia’s press got the best of Maryland in the Round of 32 in a 10-point win in a Game that was close to a pick ’em.
If the Mountaineers stand a chance in this Game, it will be because of their bread-and-butter full-cOurt pressure. They press more than any other team in the country, off of makes and misses and have a deep lineup that allows them to do that. It’s nothing easy to prepare for, but Kentucky gets the benefit of this Game not falling in the Elite 8, as they’ll get a decent amount of time to prepare for it.
The Wildcats don’t turn it over much, but there will be opportunities for West Virginia to get in the minds of some of the Kentucky players. The Harrison twins aren’t the greatest ball-handlers and that could in turn lead to some buckets for WVU. The Mountaineers forced a pretty safe team in Maryland to a ridiculous 23 turnovers last Game. Kentucky can be lazy at times with its passing and that will only lead to steals for West Virginia.
But when Kentucky beats the press, there’s going to be plenty of open lanes and looks, whether it’s on the inside for guys like Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns, or on the outside with shooters Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis.
West Virginia has some size with the bruising Devin Williams and Jonathan Holton, but beating up on Maryland is nowhere close to what Kentucky brings. The Mountaineers will also be giving up tons of size in the backcOurt.
Another problem for WVU is that their offense isn’t all that efficient, they just Scorea lot because they like to run. Juwan Staten can beat almost anyone off the dribble, but as he gets to the hoop, will find a couple towers waiting for him that will make things extremely difficult to get good shots off.
Devin Williams has seemingly improved every Game for West Virginia and is averaging over 18 points and 10 boards per Game in his last Four. He’s going to get a real test from the bigs of Kentucky, but don’t put it past him to have some success. Keeping the Game close for the Mountaineers could fall on if they are hitting their shots or not. That’s going to be on guards Daxter Miles Jr, Gary Browne and Jevon Carter. If you don’t hit shots against Kentucky, you won’t have a chance. Staten is the creator in the offense and it looks like he’s over his injury that cost him a few Games to close the season.
But keeping the bigger Wildcats in check may be the bigger issue. West Virginia forces a lot of turnovers, but it’s not like they have a great defense, and they haven’t been a good rebounding team all year. The Mountaineers have shot it fine in their first couple Games, but will they be able to against the bigger Wildcats?